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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C minor BWV1060
Oboe Concerto in F after BWV49; BMV169
Oboe d’amore Concerto in A BWV1055
Oboe Concerto in G minor BWV1056
Hans-Peter Westermann (oboe)
Mary Utiger (violin)
Camarata Köln
Rec. October 1992, location not stated DDD
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 74321 935422 [56:03]

 

A disc of oboe concertos by J.S. Bach seems an attractive prospect. Not that Bach wrote any oboe concertos; these are essentially transcriptions of keyboard concertos. Only the double concerto for oboe and violin is well known in this format. Although the surviving score is for two keyboards, there seem to be more recordings available in the oboe/violin version. Some of these are played in the key of D minor but here it is given in the original C minor. The concertos BWV 1055 and 1056 are usually known as keyboard concertos numbers 4 and 5, the latter transposed up a tone from the original F minor. Regarding the concerto derived from BWV49 and BWV169, I have been unable to find out anything about its origins. Therein lies my one significant gripe about this disc; the documentation is very thin indeed, consisting mostly of a short essay speculating that these concertos might have originally been written for the oboe. Specific information on what is known about the origins of the works and who transcribed them is lacking. Furthermore there is no information about the [period] instruments used and it is not even made clear whether BWV 1055 is actually played on an oboe d’amore (although, if you are prepared to rely on my ears, it is).

Listening to the disc is a much better experience. Camarata Köln are a period band and they are well in their element. The recorded sound is pleasingly natural and Hans-Peter Westermann is an excellent soloist, his playing both alert and mellifluous. In the double concerto Mary Utiger’s contribution is well-judged and there is good rapport between the soloists. The finale bounces along spiritedly and is particularly successful.

This disc seems to be a mid-price reissue but there is some competition around (which I haven’t heard), for example on Naxos. If your sole criterion for judging a disc is based on what comes in through your ears, then this is worth considering. If you also expect to be able to read about what is going on then I suggest looking elsewhere.

Patrick C Waller



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